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The birth of a child represents all levels of hope and possibility to society and to a family. We want the best for them. As a parent or grandparent, there's so much we want to teach these children.
It starts with basic life skills like walking without tumbling and feeding yourself without painting the walls with Spaghetti-0s. Little rhymes, fairy tales, counting and ABCs soon follow along with how to high five or throw a kiss. Some issues are struggles like managing buttons, zippers and shoelaces.
And the adults have more complex concerns regarding development of personality and preferences. Try teaching a child to share or to love or to trust.
In the effort to teach, sometimes we ignore the value of play. Instead of enjoying the kids, grownups actually are busy evaluating play time in search of signs of social skills or career proclivities.
The real surprise when tuning into kids is not how much that I have to teach them. It's how much they are teaching me.
There's a whole layer of cultural interests that escape adults. Whether it's the friendship lessons of the Backyardigans, the comic adventures of Phineas and Ferb or the sitcom-style series featuring Bugs Bunny and his Looney Tune buddies, there's a new world constantly being invented.
As adults, we often close our minds to the new. Locked in the known and the comfortable, many of us have only a passing knowledge of today's highlights. An occasional rapper's name or a budding actor's face may leap into our existence but generally it's hard to crack the shell of familiarity that comes with age.
Do you know more about John Wayne and Kirk Douglas than almost any of today's headliners? Would you prefer to listen to a scratchy Johnny Cash album rather than any song that requires use of an earbud? If given the choice, would you watch a collection of Jack Benny, Carol Burnett and Groucho Marx or "Saturday Night Live" highlights? (Personally, I can't answer that last question. Too close to call.)
It's important to be cultural relevant if you want to have an impact.
Don't get me wrong. There are limits. I'm not going to get tats or pierce anything.
The effort includes introducing them to things from my culture without sounding like a dinosaur. With entire networks devoted to cartoons, they'll never understand the Saturday morning excitement of my TV youth. But of late, we've had some breakthroughs like The Hardy Boys mystery books, black-and-white classic episodes of "The Andy Griffith Show" and an appreciation for football, even if it's just the video-game variety.
It's not all about entertainment. There are things that I need the grandkids in my life to appreciate, to understand and to love. I want them to understand the value and importance of work. I want them to know and respect their personal history and the family members who have gone before. I want them to know and love church and the Bible.
One way to accomplish that is to openly show my own passion and demonstrate my devotion to those priorities. But I also need credibility. I need to understand and respect the things that matter to them.
So I downloaded a Littlest Pet Shop video game on my new iPhone, I'm struggling to absorb the Star Wars legacy which I intentionally ignored out of loyalty to Star Trek's mythology and I'm grudgingly learning just enough about the WWE to not say anything silly in front of a 7-year-old fan.
The goal is to bring as much value to their lives as they bring to mine. The Christmas break reminded me just how much work that's going to require.
Ben Sheroan is editor of The News-Enterprise. He can be reached at (270) 505-1764 or firstname.lastname@example.org.